If you’ve been following me along my blog tour, you know I’ve talked a bit about bullying. One of the things I was interested in exploring when writing Play Me, I’m Yours, was the impact that bullying can have on other family members. In the novel, Lucas has a younger brother named Mason, who is fifteen years old. Because their age difference is only two years, they attend the same high school. Mason is well aware of the taunting Lucas endures, and it greatly affects the relationship he has with his brother. Mason doesn’t have a problem with Lucas being gay per se, but rather the impact it has on his own social life. Mason’s mindset is one of self preservation. He gets angry when people tease him for having a gay brother, and even angrier when people assume he’s gay too. He lashes out at the easiest target—his brother.
I hope readers find Mason to be a sympathetic character. Sure, he’s a brat, but deep down, he’s a good kid. Although much of his internal struggle occurs off-page or is implied through dialogue (both by the things he says and the things he refrains from saying), I think he’s one of the most interesting characters in the novel, and he does show personal growth over time.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that younger sons are more likely to be gay than older sons. Had the ages been reversed (if Lucas were the younger gay brother, and if Mason were the older, straight brother), I think the relationship would have played out very differently. Mason, in that case, would probably be more outwardly protective of his brother. But since Lucas is the older brother, the one Mason is supposed to “look up to”, the stigma surrounding Lucas’s effeminate nature causes a lot of resentment on both ends. Lucas looks at his younger brother as the type of person he’s “supposed” to be—the one everyone loves and admires. Neither brother feels he has anyone he can talk to about his feelings. Their parents come with a whole other set of issues. The saddest part is that everyone means well. They’re all just horrible at communicating with one another, as is the case in many families.
I haven’t read many “coming out” stories that deal with sibling relationships. Many focus on the reactions of parents and friends instead. One notable exception is Andy Squared by Jennifer Lavoie. In that story, the young gay man has a fraternal twin sister, who reacts very badly to her brother’s coming out. In this novel, her feelings stem from her personal beliefs that homosexuality is wrong, and she has a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that her brother, whom she has always been close to, is gay.
What I have not yet come across in fiction, although I’ve seen some articles and videos about the subject online, are stories of families with multiple gay siblings. Surely authors are writing about that too, and if you have any recommendations for me, please list them in the comments.
Of course not all siblings struggle with finding out their brother or sister is gay. Some offer unconditional love and support from the beginning, and in some cases, finding out a sibling is gay even strengthens the relationship. In closing, I’d like to share the video “My Brother Does My Makeup TAG! (feat. Brian)“, made by YouTube vlogger Coen with his (adopted) younger brother, Brian. Although Coen is an out-and-proud gay man (see his coming out video here) whose look is the perfect blend of both masculine and feminine beauty, his younger brother, Brian, appears to be completely comfortable with Coen and his love of makeup. I love how playful they are with one another. I also love the part of the video where Brian reaches for a blush brush and Coen says, “Why do guys always like the big fluffy brushes?” and Brian, without even thinking about it, says, “You’re a guy.”
Mason could learn a thing or two from hanging out with Coen and his brother!
Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. His one comfort in life is his music; he feels unloved by everyone. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.
Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.
Visit Madison Parker’s Website at www.madisonparklove.com for bonus materials including character sketches, piano covers, music videos, and lyrics for songs referenced in the novel.
To celebrate the release of Play Me, I’m Yours, Madison Parker is hosting a giveaway. Enter to win your choice of a free copy of Play Me, I’m Yours or a $10 gift certificate from Rainbow eBooks by leaving a comment below along with your email address. For multiple chances to win, comment at each stop along the tour. Click here for the complete tour schedule. Winners will be chosen randomly on April 23.